Pragmatism and inferentialism

In Bernhard Weiss & Jeremy Wanderer (eds.), Reading Brandom: On Making It Explici. Routledge. pp. 81--95 (2010)
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One of the central themes of Brandom’s work is that we should construct our sematic theories around material validity and incompatibility, rather than reference, truth, and satisfaction. This approach to semantics is motivated in part by Brandom’s pragmatism about the relation between semantics and the more general study of language use—what he calls “pragmatics”: Inferring is a kind of doing. . . . The status of inference as something that can be done accordingly holds out the promise of securing an appropriate relation between pragmatics, the study of the practices, and semantics, the study of the corresponding contents. (MIE, 91)1 Although Brandom does not go so far as to say that a pragmatist attitude to the relation between semantics and pragmatics requires an inferentialist semantics, his motivating arguments strongly suggest that a pragmatist ought to be an inferentialist. In what follows, I discuss the connections between Brandom’s pragmatism and his inferentialism. I’ll argue that pragmatism, as Brandom initially describes it—the view that “semantics must answer to pragmatics”—does not favor an inferentialist approach to semantics over a truth-conditional one. I’ll then consider whether inferentialism might be..



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John MacFarlane
University of California, Berkeley

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.Gilbert Harman - 2008 - Cambridge University Press.

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